Churchill's dentures to go under the hammer
PUBLISHED: 11:43 06 January 2011
Sir Winston Churchill's dentures are set to raise more than £12,000 at auction and a senior partner at the practise where they were made said the dentist who created them was good friends with the charismatic leader.
A ‘skeletal partial upper denture, with gold base and clasps and mineral teeth’, which were designed to disguise Churchill’s lisp, will go under the hammer at Bonhams auctioneers in London on January 19.
They were made by his dentist Sir Wilfred Fish, who founded the Eustace & Partners practise on Dartford Road, Sevenoaks, and were worn by the former PM — whose family home was at Chartwell, near Westerham — from before World War II until just before his death in 1965.
Matt Streven is a senior partner at the practise and is familiar with its history. He said that some letters sold at auction between Churchill and Sir Wilfred reveal that they were good friends too.
Mr Streven said: “Sir Wilfred was the founder of our medical practise. He had the building purpose built in 1927 and designed by the famous Sevenoaks architect Baillie Scott. Sir Wilfred was a very prominent figure in the dental world. He became the then Queen’s [the late Queen Mother] dentist and, after he sold the practise to Eustace & Partners in 1937, he became the first chairman of the General Medical Council (GMC). He moved up to London and died there about 10 years ago.
“A couple of years ago some letters to Sir Wilfred from Winston Churchill came on the market. One of them read, ‘Dear Wilfred, thank you for the work, all seems to be well and I enclose the other for you to do the same. As for the other matter, I have put it forward to the Home Secretary and we see no problem with your honour.’”
This, Mr Strevens explained, must pertain to the knighthood he was awarded for his services to dentistry and for founding the GMC.
He said that, although it has never been confirmed, the letters give the impression that Sir Wilfred and Churchill ‘appear to have been friends as well as just dentist and patient’.
Mr Strevens added: “I wasn’t aware of this particular auction but there was another sale of some famous person’s dentures earlier this year that made £7,000. Personally I can’t understand why people would want them! But lots of people seem to have an interest in them.”
Churchill lived at Chartwell House, near Westerham, from 1922 until his death in 1965. The charismatic leader, who led the country to victory against all odds in the Second World War, reportedly loved the house and the whole area.
Mr Streven said: “We are very proud of our history here and of our connections with Churchill.”
■ For more information visit www.bonhams.com.